No. 11 Auburn starts fast, hands No. 16 LSU its 1st loss

Auburn forward Walker Kessler (13) blocks the shot of LSU forward Tari Eason (13) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

AUBURN, Ala. — Walker Kessler had 16 points, a career-high 11 blocked shots and 10 rebounds to lead No. 11 Auburn to a 70-55 victory over previously unbeaten No. 16 LSU on Wednesday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Kessler got the second triple-double in Auburn’s program history, but it didn’t become official until well after the game ended. Auburn’s official scorer credited Kessler with a rebound that had initially gone down as a team board with 9:55 left in the first half.


Freshman Jabari Smith also scored 16 points for Auburn (12-1), which has won nine straight and didn’t give up a field goal in the opening 10 minutes.

LSU (12-1), which came as one of major college basketball’s five unbeaten teams, scored just one point in the first 10:45 but still managed to pull to within six a couple of times in the second half.

Wendell Green Jr. had 15 points for Auburn and preseason All-SEC guard Allen Flanigan scored 10 in his first start.

Xavier Pinson had 13 points when he fouled out with 5:32 left for LSU.


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Zach Edey scored 21 points, Jaden Ivey added 19 and Purdue beat Nicholls State.

Purdue (12-1) shot 57.4% and cracked 100 points for the first time this season.

The 7-foot-4 Edey made 7 of 8 shots and 7 of 9 free throws. Also scoring in double figures for the Boilermakers were Isaiah Thompson (15 points), Sasha Stefanovic (14) and Mason Gillis (10).

Ty Gordon led Nicholls State (8-6) with 29 points, hitting 9 of 15 3-pointers. Ryghe Lyons scored 20 points and Lattrell Jones had 18 for the Colonels.


LAWRENCE, Kan. — Christian Braun scored 22 points, Ochai Agbaji added 16 and Kansas rolled past Nevada in a hastily scheduled game after both teams had opponents drop out with COVID-19 problems.

The Jayhawks (10-1) were supposed to play Harvard before an outbreak forced the Crimson to cancel the trip early this week. The Wolf Pack (6-5) stepped in when their Mountain West opener against San Jose State had to be postponed because of positive tests within the Spartans’ program.

Dajuan Harris had a career-high 14 points and David McCormack also scored 14 for the Jayhawks.

Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Grant Sherfield scored 16 points apiece to lead the Wolf Pack.


EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gabe Brown scored a career-high 24 points as short-handed Michigan State pulled away in the second half to beat High Point in a matchup of longtime coaching friends Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith.

The Spartans (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) were without four players, including starters Marcus Bingham Jr. and Max Christie, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

Joey Hauser had a season-high 17 points and 11 rebounds for Michigan State. Jaden House had 11 of his 18 points in the first half for High Point (6-7).


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jahvon Quinerly scored 18 points and Noah Gurley added a season-high 15 to help Alabama beat Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Crimson Tide leading scorer Jaden Shackelford struggled for most of the night before he made a tying 3-pointer and a go-ahead layup in the final two minutes.

Oliver Nkamhoua made a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left to give Tennessee a 68-67 advantage. The Crimson Tide’s Keon Ellis answered 10 seconds later with his own 3 and Alabama made three free throws in the final 25 seconds.

Nkamhoua led Tennessee (9-3) with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Volunteers were missing leading scorer Kennedy Chandler and John Fulkerson, both of whom tested positive for COVID-19.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Noah Horchler scored 17 points with 13 rebounds, and Nate Watson added 14 points to carry Providence past short-handed Seton Hall.

Watson, a 6-foot-10 center, became the 18th player in Providence history to reach 1,500 points.

Playing its first game since a victory over Rutgers on Dec. 12, Seton Hall had only eight players in uniform. Five were in COVID-19 protocols, but only one starter, 7-foot-2 center Ike Obiagu, was out.

Jared Bynum also had 14 points for Providence (12-1, 2-0 Big East), which is off to its best start since opening 2015-16 by winning 14 of its first 15 games.

Alexis Yetna had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Pirates (9-2, 0-1).


LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keion Brooks Jr. scored 17 points, TyTy Washington Jr. added 14 points and Kentucky rolled past Missouri.

The Wildcats (10-2, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) trailed just once early on against the Tigers, but Kentucky had some ragged stretches in the second half before pulling away.

Amari Davis and Dajuan Gordon had 10 points each for Missouri (6-7, 0-1), which dropped its fourth in six games.


MADISON, Wis. — Steven Crowl had 21 points and nine rebounds, and No. 24 Wisconsin struggled to put away Illinois State in its first game after a two-week break because of COVID-19.

Johnny Davis, the Badgers’ leading scorer, had 20 points on 6-of-23 shooting and 11 rebounds. Second-leading scorer Brad Davison was held to seven points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Tyler Wahl finished with 18 points while Chucky Hepburn had 13 for Wisconsin (10-2).

Illinois State (8-6) battled back from a 19-point deficit early in the second half and got within 81-80 on Antonio Reeves’ 3-pointer with 2 minutes left. But Reeves missed a floater and then fouled out. He led the Redbirds with 23 points, while Sy Chatman had 22.

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